For more than a decade, the Microsoft® Windows® XP OS has served client systems well in organizations of all sizes. During that time it has arguably been the end-user platform of choice across a wide range of industries. However, technology innovations in end-user devices — combined with the imminent end of the Windows XP support life cycle — are rendering continued support of Windows XP to be a costly proposition for many organizations.

Today’s advanced desktops, laptops, ultrabooks, tablets and other business-user devices offer exceptional productivity features that require cutting-edge OS technology. Integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity enhance mobility and flexibility for workforces, and high-definition and high-resolution monitors and touch-screen capabilities are enriching the end-user experience in many fresh ways. Additionally, 32-bit addressing limits the ability of PCs running legacy operating systems to take advantage of advanced 64-bit application features and functionality.

As legacy PCs running Windows XP become increasingly costly to support, organizations are vulnerable to rising security risks and missed opportunities to boost productivity. A recent IDC analysis concluded that the annual IT and end-user labor cost of supporting a legacy Windows XP–based PC is US$870.00, compared to US$168.00 for supporting a Windows 7–based PC.1 Perhaps most importantly, extended support for Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) ends April 8, 2014. As this date approaches, updates for Windows XP versions of common enterprise applications are likely to become progressively sparse.

For these reasons and the tremendous opportunities available to utilize end-user device advances such as touch screens, the time to plan and implement a Windows transition strategy is now. As IT organizations carefully consider the upcoming OS migration, they must determine which version is appropriate for each end user — Windows 7 or Windows 8. For example, Windows 8 is required for mobile applications utilizing touch-screen technology. However, Windows 7 is currently more widely deployed and supported on leading applications than Windows 8.

As a result, many organizations may opt for a hybrid environment consisting of Windows 8 and Windows 7 for some time to come. In addition to considering the target OS mix, organizations should assess infrastructure readiness for a Windows OS migration before they start, including application compatibility, security and mobility considerations.

To help organizations make a smooth transition to Windows 7 and/or Windows 8 operating environments, Dell offers a deep set of migration services designed to minimize cost, reduce risk and elevate end-user productivity. These services include Windows best practices workshops, readiness assessment services, migration planning, application compatibility testing and deployment services. They also include targeted mobile application development services that help organizations enable end users to access the applications and data they need from mobile devices.

Planning a successful OS migration

An OS platform migration can be a complex, time-consuming process, especially when administrators must assess the compatibility of applications. Many organizations have hundreds of applications that need to be identified, rationalized, assessed and potentially remediated. This evaluation presents a good opportunity to remove applications that are no longer needed. Those that remain must be tested for compatibility, and if necessary, remediated to help ensure operability following OS migration. The process often requires skilled engineering resources.

To help organizations minimize the cost and challenges of performing these tasks, Dell offers a wide range of Windows migration services from readiness assessment and application compatibility to testing and reporting. These offerings help ensure that organizations can get up and running on a Windows 7 or a Windows 8 platform quickly and effectively.

The Dell IT Consulting for Windows Workshop offers an excellent forum for learning and sharing Windows best practices when preparing for a successful transition. For example, administrators can explore whether Windows 7, Windows 8 or a mixed-OS environment may be suitable for their organization. Windows workshops provide collaborative, round-table discussions in which administrators learn strategies for implementing best practices. Specific topics address how to catalog existing applications; how to evaluate migration readiness, including identifying application and hardware compatibility problems and assessing application preparedness for Windows 7 and Windows 8 security features; and how to organize a deployment schedule.

Dell also offers comprehensive Windows Readiness Assessment services that help administrators identify infrastructure preparedness before embarking on a Windows OS migration. Dell works with administrators to catalog software titles using automated discovery tools and then identify application compatibility, hardware compatibility and migration readiness. Dell Services also works with administrators to develop a detailed analysis of organizational preparedness for a Windows migration, including a comprehensive gap analysis. Tailored recommendations ease the transition to Windows 7 and Windows 8 platforms — including minimum hardware specifications, end-user training plans and requirements for taking advantage of Windows 7 and Windows 8 data security features.

Because identifying and remediating application compatibility issues are challenging when considering any OS migration, Dell offers the Windows Application Compatibility Reporting service. This service helps organizations proactively identify and manage application compatibility issues before beginning a migration. Dell provides this service by performing a detailed analysis of an organization’s application portfolio, including extensive testing of compatibility characteristics against a target OS to determine the Windows compatibility of every application. If desired, Dell will work with organizations to resolve compatibility problems discovered during the analysis process. Remediation can be performed on an existing Microsoft Windows Installer (MSI) portfolio, or integrated into the standard Dell™ MSI packaging process.

Dell offers a range of other migration services. Application rationalization helps organizations eliminate redundant, obsolete, or unsupported applications. Software virtualization and streaming utilize extensive Dell experience in migrating applications to the data center or the cloud with virtualization technologies from Citrix, Microsoft and VMware. As complementary offerings to these migration services, Dell provides optimized deployment services that enhance the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of desktop deployment by providing a detailed analysis of existing processes plus recommendations for process improvements.

Going mobile with a touch screen–enabled platform

In addition to security and cost considerations, many organizations are looking to migrate to Microsoft Windows 8 to take advantage of the productivity benefits in using mobile applications optimized for touch-screen devices. Increasingly, today’s end users want the freedom to be productive anytime, anywhere, and from almost any device — especially devices such as smartphones and tablets. At the same time, administrators need to ensure that enterprise data remains secure while minimizing management challenges.

Windows 8 enables compatible devices to offer advanced touch-screen application functionality with the enterprise-class security and manageability that many organizations require. A migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 and/or Windows 8 affords organizations the opportunity to embrace touch screen–enabled devices, particularly in bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environments.

To help organizations capitalize on Windows 8 benefits, Dell provides a portfolio of mobile application services, from assessment to implementation to deployment. For example, Dell Mobile Computing Assessment services help organizations identify which end users can benefit from enhanced productivity using touch screen–enabled applications, and obtain suitable devices to meet their needs. To that end, Dell offers a range of mobile devices that help combine touch-screen capabilities with enterprise security, reliability and manageability (see “Inspiring innovations for the dynamic, go-anywhere workplace”).

Dell also provides comprehensive design and implementation services to facilitate a targeted, successful mobile device rollout. Dell Mobile Computing Design services help organizations identify which applications need to be mobilized, and Dell Mobile Computing Implementation services can provide application conversion and/or development services if necessary. For example, Dell can port preexisting Apple iOS–based and Google Android–based applications to Windows 8 environments. Dell also offers custom application development for business requirements not met by off-the-shelf software.

Timing OS migration to exploit device feature enhancements

OS transitions can be challenging. At the same time, migrating to Microsoft Windows 7 and Windows 8 platforms opens up a wealth of opportunities beyond simple cost reduction and risk mitigation following from imminent termination of support for Windows XP. Advanced application and hardware technologies, particularly for touch screen–enabled devices supported by Windows 8, boost end-user productivity while also helping provide the security, reliability and manageability of an enterprise-class operating environment. Dell Services provides an extensive portfolio of service offerings that enable organizations to realize unparalleled productivity gains while benefiting from a streamlined, successful migration to Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Inspiring innovations for the dynamic, go-anywhere workplace

From portable touch-screen tablets and durable ultrabooks to space-saving desktops for business clients, Dell offers a range of end-user devices designed for exceptional worker productivity. Leveraging advanced technologies that now take advantage of the Windows 8 touch experience, these devices are designed to offer unparalleled flexibility with enterprise-class security, manageability and control.

Dell Latitude 10 tablet

Workers in a range of fields can enhance their productivity with this versatile tablet, which combines touch-screen flexibility with advanced security and manageability features. Powered by the Intel® Atom™ processor Z2760 with Intel Burst Technology, the Dell™ Latitude™ 10 tablet offers a durable, 10.1-inch Corning® Gorilla® Glass multitouch HD display in a reinforced magnesium alloy frame. It is designed to support both Windows 8 touch-enabled applications and legacy applications. The Latitude 10 tablet includes an optional docking station for in-office, desktop-like productivity, swappable battery, USB port and convenient wireless connectivity so workers can stay productive on the go.

Dell Latitude 10 tablet and Latitude 6430u ultrabook

Dell Latitude 6430u ultrabook

Highly mobile professionals can take advantage of the Latitude 6430u, an extremely manageable Intel vPro™–enabled ultrabook that is powered by Intel Core™ i3, i5 or i7 ultra-low-voltage processors. The Latitude 6430u features a sleek, lightweight form factor and solid-state drives (SSDs), and it has been MIL-STD 810G tested for rugged durability. The Latitude 6430u also features Dell extensions for enhanced manageability. In addition, this ultrabook facilitates a range of connectivity options, and offers swappable batteries designed to support up to 10 hours of battery life.

Dell XPS 10 tablet

Designed for a rich, all-around user experience, the Dell XPS™ 10 tablet is a 10.1-inch device that heightens both work and life productivity. Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core Krait processor at up to 1.5 GHz, the Dell XPS 10 tablet features front- and rear-facing cameras for enhanced video collaboration. It comes with the Microsoft Windows RT tablet OS and is bundled with the Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 suite of communication, collaboration, and management software. An optional Dell Mobile Keyboard Dock offers an additional built-in battery, comprehensive keyboard and touchpad capabilities, and USB and High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) ports.

Dell XPS 10 tablet

Dell XPS 12 convertible ultrabook

Flexibility, performance and style empower busy professionals with the workhorse capabilities of a laptop and the conveniences of a tablet for both data creation and data consumption tasks. The XPS 12 powered by the third-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor features an elegant flip hinge design for a smooth transition from laptop to tablet use. Its HD display includes Corning Gorilla Glass for added durability and a 170-degree viewing angle. Carbon fiber in the base keeps the system lightweight and cool on a person’s lap. The XPS 12 offers Trusted Platform Module (TPM) support that facilitates the transition from home use to work when the device is brought to the workplace.
Dell XPS 12 convertible ultrabook

Dell OptiPlex 9010 All-in-One desktop

Well suited for a range of workplace environments including interactive help desks, electronic point-of-sale stations and interactive meeting rooms, the Dell OptiPlex™ 9010 All-in-One desktop features an innovative, space-saving design. Powered by third-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 quad-core or Intel Pentium® dual-core processors, the OptiPlex 9010 features a 23-inch multitouch display with projected capacitance touch-screen technology. It includes a rotating camera, dual-monitor capabilities and an optional articulated stand that enhances flexibility and collaboration. Designed to deliver efficient manageability and confident security, the durable OptiPlex 9010 All-in-One desktop is designed for long-term stability.
Dell OptiPlex 9010 All-in-One desktop

Kathleen Walker is a senior product consultant for Global End-User Computing at Dell.

Voll Corn is the IT Consulting product manager for End-User Computing at Dell.

Brent Silveria is the outbound marketing senior advisor for IT Consulting and End-User Computing offer development at Dell.

1 “Source: IDC white paper, sponsored by Microsoft Corporation, “Mitigating risk: Why sticking with Windows XP is a bad idea,” Doc #234960, May 2012.